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In the lead-up to World Smokefree Day, May 31, Smokefree Otago chairwoman Debby Newton was keen to share the Smokefree May theme "We’re Backing You’, which highlighted how the journey towards becoming smokefree was a team effort.
"It is something we as friends, whanau, community and businesses all need to get behind, if we are going to reach that Smokefree 2025 goal," she said.
"We need to let our friends and loved ones know that we are backing them on their smokefree journey."
Smokefree Otago — a group of organisations which promote smokefree environments and lifestyles in Otago — is also celebrating New Zealand’s world-leading Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act, which came into force on January 1, 2023 and restricts young people from smoking.
"The new legislation will release the next generation — the first smokefree generation — to live without the burdens that smoked tobacco brings.
"Smoking is a sunset industry and it is time to consign it to history," Ms Newton said.
The major changes the new legislation will bring about is the restriction of supply of tobacco products across the country, the introduction of very low-nicotine cigarettes and the creation of a smokefree generation.
"It is simply time to stop our rangatahi from being the ‘replacement customers’ of the tobacco industry," she said.
The legislation prohibits anyone from selling or supplying smoked tobacco products to people born on or after January 1, 2009, to prevent this and future generations from smoking.
It will come into full force on January 1, 2027, when these rangatahi will be 18 years old — currently the legal age for buying tobacco products.
A sharp reduction of the number of tobacco retailers will take place over the next year, from more than 6000 nationally at present down to less than 600 by July, 2024.
In Dunedin, the number will drop from about 117 tobacco retailers, down to four approved smoked-tobacco retailers.
"So, tobacco will be less available, and its ubiquity reduced," Ms Newton said.
"Tobacco shouldn’t sit alongside common everyday products, and this reduction in tobacco retailers will achieve that."
As nicotine is the primary addictive constituent in smoked tobacco, and the level of nicotine in products available in New Zealand is high at 10-15mg per cigarette, the legislation will mandate the reduction of nicotine levels.
From April 1, 2025, only approved smoked-tobacco products will be sold, and the nicotine level must not exceed 0.8mg/g.
New Zealand has been working towards its Smokefree 2025 goal for 12 years.
"We are heading in the right direction," Ms Newton said.
Adult smoking rates have dropped to 8%, although the rates of smoking among Maori and Pasifika people remain of concern, at 19.9% and 18.2% respectively.
Stop smoking services
- The Southern Stop Smoking Service provides a free face-to-face service — Phone 0800925-242 or follow the link nkmp.maori.nz/service/southern-stop-smoking-service
- Quitline, telephone service offering free support and advice to stop smoking — Phone 0800778-778, or follow the link quit.org.nz